This day started like any random off day for the Cubs. At least, during the tail end of the school year, when I long for summer and want all the kids to just do their work, get their final grades, and leave me alone for a month so I can recharge and prepare for the next year. I was also looking forward to watching nerd shows (some of which have ended their season, or will soon) and just veg out as I count down the days to temporary freedom from adolescent angst.
Imagine how stupid of a day it turned out to be when I received a message from my father, who informed me that my younger brother had died in a car accident.
I debated long and hard about whether to blog about this, and until now, all I had done was to just post a memorial on Facebook with a couple pictures. I think I just felt guilty for a while because I haven’t actually talked to my brother in months. He, like me, is very busy with things, although he can also do many more things because he simply makes more money than I do (let’s not get into how underpaid teachers are right now) and so we just don’t have the time to touch base like we did when we were younger. I haven’t actually physically seen my family outside of FaceTime or Google Hangouts or Skype for years now as we live here in Chicago and they are still in California. But honestly, I could have made a better effort to reach out, considering how supportive they have been for me and my wife and son.
I can’t comment too much about it, but it is a hell of a thing for my brother, even in death, to make the news. I feel like, because he is as weird as I am, he would appreciate some of the gallows humor that I’m using to cope right now. For example, as I wade through the five stages of grief, I’ve spent about an hour or so in school wondering what the hell happened, to being angry with my dad for telling me just now (although he himself didn’t get the news until just before he told me), to being angry with Tesla, and now I guess I’m still stuck in anger because he shouldn’t have died. But we really can’t predict death, can we? I think I’m more angry that he had to die before I did, because he’s younger and he didn’t even get to get married or have kids like I already have.
For as much of a goober as he could be, and despite our age difference, I had a lot of good memories with my brother. From helping him with homework, playing video games, sports in the yard, trips abroad, it was good to have a companion and someone who looked up to me. Eventually, he became more successful, and I’d like to think that I was part of that (he decided to make a buttload of money while I chose to save the world, so there ya go). But he used that success to help my own fledgling family, to help me get through graduate school, and to be a good uncle to my son when he could find the time. That kind of stuff I can never repay. Heck, my oldest set of baseball gloves are the ones we bought decades ago so we could play catch together after school; I still have our original pair of baseballs somewhere.
I have already made tons of very inappropriate jokes to my wife as I try to sort through this, and I recognize that the investigation will take a while so there’s not much I can do about that. I will say that it would be so like my brother to make the news (as I said up top), to make history as the Highway Patrol didn’t know right away what to do with the crash, and to force me to take a day off from school in the first time in forever.
Honestly, this was not the way I wanted to take time off. I regret not having been able to talk to him before he passed. I hope you don’t make the same mistakes and have similar regrets. And I hope that he knows that I still care, and that I will miss him.